Prevention on multiple levels is the key to the protection of children. Victims of child sexual abuse suffer not only an intolerable violation of their right to physical integrity but also life-long horrific social, emotional and psychological consequences.
The EESC reiterates its call for all Member States, as well as the European Union, under the new Treaty of Lisbon, to sign and ratify, as a matter of urgency, the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, to strengthen the ability of the EU to prevent child sexual abuse.
Preventive measures should be holistic, child-centred and happen as early as possible with a minimum level of intervention. There are many excellent initiatives to be endorsed. The EESC calls on the European Commission to adopt and enforce a European Union Prevention Strategy Against Child Sexual Abuse that harnesses a coordinated vision across Member States, based on objectives contained in the four strands: education, law enforcement, civil society's role and research and standards.
The EESC commends the work of many civil society actors, particularly NGOs, in putting in place prevention measures. The best practice examples are too many to list here but invaluable for others to learn from. To that end the EESC has produced a database with information.